International Astronomical Union – led CAP 2022 (Communicating Astronomy with the Public Conference) was held over from 12-17 September 2022 in Sydney Australia and had international participation.
The conference was held at Macquarie University in Sydney.
An exceptional programme unfolded in the five days that were preceded by visits to museums, exhibitions, an astronomy night and followed by a public astronomy night open to anyone in Sydney.
This was a brilliant conference with about 100 attendees from all over the world in person and about another 100 joining online at various times during the week. The programme was packed with breakout sessions, workshops and plenary items. CAP2022 is a part of the International Astronomical Union and meets every two years at different locations around the world. The meeting in Sydney had been delayed from 2020 due to COVID.
There were many many very interesting talks and it was difficult to get around to all of the ones we were interested in attending. We made the most of splitting up the Milky-Way.Kiwi attendance but attending different workshops. Ones of the highlights was a fantastic workshop run by the Australia’s gravitational wave science communicators. They had some excellent tips on how to engage with audiences through virtual reality, augmented reality, and the use of artificial intelligence art to help build unique educational materials. We picked up some really useful things from the workshops we attended and will certainly be putting them to got use in the next few months.
One of the highlights of the conference was the workshop on pulsars@parkes. This was an initiative aimed at communicating radio astronomy to a wide audience through giving students access to the enormous Parkes Radio Telescope. Hari got to drive the massive telescope to find her very own pulsar. It was a very special opportunity to be able to operate such a significant and historically important piece of astronomy history.
During one of the evenings of the conference there was also the opportunity to have a look at the astronomy setup at the university. They have quite a few telescopes and two domes with large telescopes. The main telescope was a Planewave 24” and despite the clouds we got to have a look at Saturn and the Eagle Nebula. The best part was chatting to the staff and seeing how they interact with the public and looking at their setup, lots a really cool things we could do at Star Safari along similar lines.
The conference was a fantastic way to see what everyone else around the world is doing and learn from the best.
One of the last events of the meeting was to present David Malin with a picture from CAP2022 recognising his extraordinary career in astrophotography. The presentation was made against the backdrop of a selection of his images.